Ilocos Norte to revitalize bamboo industry

LAOAG CITY, Ilocos Norte, June 11 (PNA) — After decades of decline, the sturdy and tenacious bamboo known for its multiple functions and uses finally caught the attention of local government units here as an opportunity for economic growth.

In Piddig town, Mayor Eduardo Guillen said the municipal government is set to embark on establishing a 100-hectare bamboo plantation project in Barangay Estancia as an alternative livelihood for farmers.

According to Guillen, farmers are too much focused on planting one staple crop such as rice which results to slow pace development.

“One reason why majority of our farmers are not improving is because they depend solely on rice farming. I believe that palay is a political commodity. Even if you have a good harvest, the price is the same. So, we need more alternative livelihood to augment their source of income,” Guillen said.

One way of promoting diversified cropping in Piddig town is the establishment of a coffee plantation intercropped with papaya, banana and bell pepper.

“If one crop fails, then we have other crops to fill in the gap,” the local chief executive said who is an engineer and businessman by profession.

Soon, the municipal government will launch its bamboo plantation following the purchase and propagation of several planting materials to start up the project. This will likewise serve as a demonstration farm so that traditional farmers will appreciate the said technology.

Based on a cost and return analysis for a one-hectare plantation of “kawayan tinik,” more than 50 percent has been figured as a return of investment on the fifth year and more for the next five years.

Aside from the economic benefits, bamboo farming is also a carbon sink which captures green house gases from the atmosphere.

“Bamboo has been known in the world because of its many functions and uses. It serves as the best substitute for wood in the furniture, handicraft, and construction industries not withstanding other benefits as a source of food, biofuel and for environmental protection,” said Charlie Batin, a bamboo technology expert at the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) in Batac City.

Bamboo can also be used for rehabilitation in degraded lands and along riverbanks for protections purposes. Bamboo can be planted in any type of soil and grows tremendously without too much care and management. It can be harvested after 3-4 years unlike trees, and it is considered as the best substitute for wood.(PNA)